All the signs of summer are here. Fireworks stands are set up, city pools are open, summer camps are starting up and camp grounds are filling to the brim. However, along with the summer fun comes some summer hazards.
Though some people admire a sexy tan, there is a reason why our ancestors lived in caves even during the summer. Not only were caves cooler than the outside, they also protected early humans from the elements, which included harmful sun rays.
Sunburn is perhaps one of the most common and painful summer hazards if not prevented.
Experts say prevention is the best medicine when it comes to sunburns. A sunscreen that blocks both UVA and UVB rays with at least SPF 15 is recommended. Sunblocks that are zinc or titanium based are most effective.
SPF, or sun protection factor, is determined by a ratio between how long it takes for unprotected skin to burn and protected skin to do the same. So, if a person wears a sunscreen with SPF 15, that person is 15 times more protected than one who does not wear sunscreen.
The difference between sunscreen and sunblock is that sunblock actually blocks radiation from the sun's rays from seeping into the skin, and sunscreen is mostly clear and made from chemicals that lessen the affect of UVA and UVB rays on the skin.
Experts also recommend wearing long-sleeved clothing and pants to reduce the affects the sun's radiation can have on the skin.
As anyone who has suffered from a sunburn can imagine, treating the burn is more difficult than preventing it. Though the affects of a sunburn can last anywhere from four to seven days, those days seem much longer when a person is in pain.
Anyone can find home remedies for sunburns online. Some remedies include dabbing the affected area with apple cider vinegar or with Malox to draw out the heat. Cool, not ice cold, baths can also relieve some of the pain. Ibuprofen, Aleve, Tylenol and any other type of over-the-counter analgesic can be used to relieve swelling and pain associated with sunburns. A couple of the most important things to do is to keep the affected area moist and to keep hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids.
Severe sunburns can cause blisters or water pockets on the skin that can scab over if broken.
Sun poisoning can also occur with a severe sunburn. If body temperature is high, above 104 degrees Fahrenheit or there is nausea or vomiting, go to an emergency room.
Mosquitoes and ticks
Having blood sucking creepy crawlies all over you doesn't sound like a happy summer vacation.
Though mosquitoes and ticks can be annoying pests and their bites can itch, they also carry diseases, such as West Nile virus for mosquitoes and Lyme disease for ticks. Both diseases have flu-like symptoms and a rash may occur. Seek medical treatment if such symptoms occur after being bitten by a mosquito or tick.
According to the American Mosquito Control Association, DEET is the most successful chemical that repels mosquitoes. A 10 percent solution of DEET can repel mosquitoes from 90 minutes to two hours outdoors. However, use of a 20 percent solution of DEET repels both mosquitoes and ticks.
The color you wear could also be a factor in how often mosquitoes attack you. The AMCA says black and red attract mosquitoes the most while greys and blues are neutral and khaki, green, yellow and white are the least attractive for the insects.
Poison ivy, oak, sumac
Though parents have said to their children for quite a long time, "Leaves of three, leave them be," the old saying is not all that accurate. Some plants, such as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac, that can cause an allergic reaction can have more than three leaves.
Clearly marking areas where poison ivy and other plants that can cause an allergic reaction grow or removing the plant can help people avoid the itchy rash and blisters that can occur from an allergic reaction.
Independence Day is this Saturday, and most people celebrate their independence with a big bang -- fireworks, that is.
Rather than go to a local fireworks display, some choose to stay home and set off their own fireworks with family and friends. However, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, thousands of people year after year are injured through the improper use of fireworks.
A couple of volunteers at the Assembly of God Church fireworks stand in front of Hirsch's Feed and Farm Supply in Thayer had a list of safety tips when lighting fireworks. Proceeds from the fireworks stand go towards the church's ministries.
The volunteers said to keep a bucket of water or a water hose near by, and children should only light fireworks with adult supervision.
They also advised those who are lighting fireworks to light them with a barbecue lighter or a punk because cigarette lighters and matches have a tendency to burn fingers. "Light and run," one volunteer said was a good rule of thumb to adhere to once fireworks are lighted.
Avoid drinking alcohol while handling fireworks, they said. Alcohol can impair a person's judgement and a drunken individual may fire fireworks into a crowd of people by accident.
Do not shoot fireworks when the ground is dry. Sparks from fireworks can cause wildfires when in contact with dry leaves or grass. Also, never smoke around fireworks.
The volunteers also advised people to never shoot fireworks at other individuals and make sure a firework is away from other fireworks when igniting it. Tube fireworks need to be secure after they are lit, they said. These types of fireworks can tip over and fire into spectators.
Properly dispose of fireworks, too, they said. One volunteer recommended soaking fireworks in water before disposing of them to make sure they don't go off and start a fire later.
Following the tips in this article should help some individuals have a safe and less stressful vacation.